The Wildlife Docs

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Wildlife Docs TV Poster Image
Educational virtual field trip is great pick for families.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Viewers see how veterinarians care for a variety of wildlife and how their work helps to combat the threat of extinction for some species. Basic medical practices (exams, immunizations, surgery) are shown in a nonthreatening way that's OK for most ages. The show introduces viewers to animal-related terms such as "carnivore," "imprint," and "pride."

Positive Messages

The show highlights the work of people committed to animal care, rehabilitation, and repopulation. The animals' well-being is their top priority, and they get great satisfaction from the work they do. Creative problem-solving and human ingenuity are integral parts of their jobs since working with different animal species is unpredictable at best.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the doctors and animal handlers are devoted to their work, and they get great satisfaction from seeing their efforts pay off in healthy, happy animals. When problems arise, they're always willing to go back to the drawing board and generate new plans to help the patients.

Violence & Scariness

Medical exams on the animals are mostly uneventful, but occasionally a patient is shown in distress or having sustained an injury. In the operating room, viewers see animals hooked up to monitors while surgeons work on them, but, again, it's not graphic or notably bloody.

Sexy Stuff

Some cases raise issues of reproduction and artificial insemination. In one segment, for instance, doctors discuss efforts to breed endangered cranes through insemination, and viewers see sperm samples under a microscope.


The series is filmed on location at Busch Gardens Tampa, which is referenced occasionally during the show.   

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wildlife Docs is a documentary series set in a care facility for exotic animals, giving viewers a close-up look at how veterinarians and handlers meet the needs of a variety of species. Some medical procedures like check-ups, blood tests, and surgeries are shown, but always in a sanitized manner that keeps the focus off any graphic details. Since breeding efforts are part of the doctors' work at the facility, you'll hear terms like "artificial insemination" and "fluid collection," which might pique the curiosity of kids old enough to grasp their meaning. Ultimately there's a lot that can be learned about animal species and behavior from watching this family-friendly series.

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What's the story?

Caring for more than 12,000 exotic animals is no walk in the park, but the experts at Busch Gardens Tampa are up to the challenge. They're THE WILDLIFE DOCS, a skilled group of veterinarians devoted to the well-being of everything from flamingos to giraffes. Hosted by Rachel Reenstra, the series takes viewers on tours of the beautiful animal habitats in the park to witness births, playtime, feedings, and all the work that goes into keeping these residents happy and healthy.

Is it any good?

Animal lovers of all sizes will enjoy this virtual field trip to Busch Gardens' remarkable facilities, and tagging along with the experts in charge gives them a unique perspective of the work that goes on behind the scenes. Darling scenes of roly-poly lion cubs or mischievous meerkats aside, what's most striking about the show is the deep affection the veterinarians have for all of their charges, and the lengths to which they will go for their care.

The show's content runs the gamut, both in its colorful cast of animal characters and in the issues that arise and must be dealt with. There are joyful moments like births and hard-fought recoveries, but also some tense ones when an animal gets sick or injured. In this way, The Wildlife Docs doesn't over-sanitize the realities of life, but there's a lightness to the show that keeps it within bounds for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the experts care for different species of animals. What aspects of their care are consistent from one kind to the next? When do the doctors have to adjust their procedures to account for differences from one species to the next?

  • How does the park setting mimic the animals' wild habitats? Why is this important even for animals born in captivity? Where would you have to go to see these types of species in their natural surroundings?

  • If your kids take an interest in this series, step up the learning with a visit to your local animal park, zoo, or aquarium. Talk about where the different species come from, how some cohabitate symbiotically, which are carnivores and which are herbivores, etc.

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Character Strengths

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